Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mt. Vernon, George Washington's home

Red and I spent our last day touring Mt. Vernon. Quite a bit of history is involved here. George Washington's great grandfather first owned this land on what is known as the upper Potomac. It was GW's older half brother who changes the name of this homesite to Mt. Vernon. And it was through this brother, named Lawrence, from whom GW acquires this estate. The grounds of this estate are quite expansive and magnificent, and it was all built by George Washington. Here is the view of the front of the mansion from what is known as the bowling green.

This is the rear view of the mansion.
There was so much to see, but other than a tour of the mansion, Red and I wanted to see the gardens most of all. Here are only a couple shots of some beauty in the gardens.
I think this is a skipper sitting on a zinnia.

To me this was a most unusual plant. I had never seen one like this before, except it looked similar to a coleus. It is called Joseph's Coat.

And last, but certainly not least -- actually I can say I have saved the best for last.
While touring the gardens I found this little caterpillar on one of the potted nursery plants. Any chance someone can ID the sound of the bird in the background?

Red and I took many more photos, but these are just the highlights. We had to catch a late afternoon flight out of BWI, so we had to allow ourselves enough time to leave Mt. Vernon to get to the airport at a reasonable time. We hated to see our vacation end so soon. Oh well.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Washington, DC

Our trip to our nation's capital was entirely too short. As a matter of fact, our whole vacation packed in more than we could reasonably see in a week. And a trip to DC just doesn't do the city justice when all you have is just eight hours to hit the highlights. But Red and I did manage to see a few places. Please visit Red's blog to see a few more photos that I haven't posted here.

Our method of transportation was using the Metro; this is the best way to get around in DC and the surrounding areas. So our first stop was the Library of Congress. I visited the Library of Congress for the first time back in 2004 when I traveled there for a combined business and pleasure trip. I was so impressed with this building I just had to sell Red on seeing it, too. The Library of Congress is so ornate, and at one time was considered the "largest, ... costliest, ... and safest library building in the world."

This year's special exhibit featured Bob Hope and American Variety. This room is a gallery usually dedicated to American Entertainment. This year features Bob Hope and all he was known for in the entertainment business, but also included some of his personal life's history. Click on the photos to see larger images.

After spending a couple hours in the Library of Congress we wanted to walk by the Capitol and head for the memorials by walking the mall. Here is a photo looking back at the Capitol with some beautiful cannas in the foreground.

While walking past the Capitol and headed for the mall, Red and I saw a building that looked like a giant-sized green house. It was the National Botanic Gardens. Well, there was no way we were going to pass up such an opportunity. We had to see what was there, but little did we know we would spend several hours there and still feel that we only scratched the surface of what was available to see. Many plants and flowers that were outdoors had bees and butterflies all over them. Here is just one shot of a couple bees on some beautiful yellow flowers. Anybody know what these flowers are?
This was a display featuring the gardens of New Mexico, namely the Botanic Gardens located in Albuquerque. Note the chile ristra hanging from the center of the wagon. This is something that is commonly seen hanging outside the front door of many homes in New Mexico.
OK - we are finally walking down the mall, headed for the memorials that are located there. But it is getting late and we are getting tired - so we decide to see just the Vietnam Memorial and the World War II Memorial. Here is a view of the WWII Memorial in front of the Lincoln Memorial, taken from the grassy area near the Washington Monument.
While we are walking down the mall toward the memorials, we look off to the side to our right and get a glimpse of the White House. I zoomed in on it and this was the result. This building and the Capitol are two buildings I have not ever visited. Have any of you ever visited either of these buildings?
And here is a view of the Washington Monument taken from the WWII Memorial.

Friday, September 21, 2007

More of Annapolis

Following the noon meal formation at the Naval Academy, Red and I walked around other parts of Annapolis. Some of the spots that the tour guide pointed out intrigued us enough to give us the desire to return to get some better photos. One of those spots was the Chase-Lloyd house. Here is a link to the history of the house provided by the National Park Service. Apparently, Samuel Chase, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, began building this house in 1769. But then he sold it unfinished to "Edward Lloyd IV, a wealthy Maryland planter and politician." Be sure to click on the NPS link - it's quite informative.

Below is a shot of the sign in front of the house. The main reason for taking this photo was to get a shot of the beautiful hyacinth bean plant growing all over the front of the house.

Below, I took this photo when Red was taking a close-up shot of the hyacinth bean plant.
Below is a view of the Naval Academy from the WWII Memorial.

Maryland's WWII Memorial.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Naval Academy Chapel

All of the following photos are of the chapel at the Naval Academy.The following are a few of the beautiful stained glass windows. I got close-ups of the Biblical verses that were under each of the windows.

This is the altar area of the chapel, aka the chancel. Take note of the organ pipes on each side.
Here is a close up of the stained glass window in the chancel.
This is the back of the chapel, in the balcony - a view of the organ and more of the pipes. Also note the ship hanging - it is called the votive.
The history behind this votive: it is a model of a 15th century Flemish carrack. It is to serve as a reminder that God protects those in peril from the sea.

Be sure to stop by Red's post. She has a few more pix, some different from mine, that you will probably enjoy, too.

Friday, September 14, 2007

US Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD

Our walking tour ended at the US Naval Academy at noon, when all midshipmen participate in what is known as "formations." You should be able to see larger views of each of these photos by clicking on them. As you can see "formations" takes place in front of Bancroft Hall.

Here you can see the color guard coming from Bancroft Hall...

...presenting the colors...

...and colors recessing.

Naval Academy brass. You can visit Red's blog to see a video of formations, and you will hear a few of the tunes they played.

All recessing into Bancroft Hall.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Our trip to Annapolis, Maryland

Red and I spent Monday, the 27th of August, touring around Annapolis. We first took a guided walking tour of the historic area, given by one of the docents who represents the Visitors' Bureau.

This first photo is the rear view and back yard of the Governor's Mansion.

This is a photo of the Post Office.

This is the front of St. John's College.

This is the front view of the Governor's mansion.

These are first year cadets (plebes) polishing the brass rails at the State House.

And I think this was in the court yard across from the State House, with the columns saying "Equal Justice Under Law."

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Ferry Farm, Fredericksburg, VA

The Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries provides a birding and wildlife trail throughout the state. Part of that trail is the coastal area, which covers the entire coast of Virginia. A small portion of this trail includes what is known as the Fredericksburg Loop. And a small portion of this loop includes George Washington's boyhood home, Ferry Farm. Ferry Farm is located just on the eastern edge of the town of Fredericksburg. Before leaving on vacation Red found out that there was to be a birding tour held at Ferry Farm when we would be in the area on that Saturday. So we got up early that morning (Aug 25) and headed over to Ferry Farm. The tour guide, Paul Nasca, a birding enthusiast, and an archeologist by vocation, showed up around 8 a.m. Before we headed out on the grounds he noticed there were 21 of us, the most birders he has had on a tour. The down side was that he informed us that we were there at a time when many birds, especially the fledglings, have already left the immediate area. And the area had not yet started seeing the migrating birds, but that they would be coming through in another month. We were told that up to 114 species have been sighted there at Ferry Farm, but we would probably only see a couple dozen that morning. On our tour we walked through various habitats - some grassy fields, some woodlands, and a river bottom. The farm is located on the northern edge of the Rappahannock River. I did not have the chance to take photos of any of the birds we saw - we were mostly too far away for my little 10x zoom digital camera. Here is a list of birds we saw in each of the various habitats:

Turkey Vulture
Mourning Dove
Ruby-throated hummingbird
Red-bellied woodpecker (heard)
Downy Woodpecker
American Crow
*Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse (heard)
Carolina Wren (heard)
*Blue-gray gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird (heard)
American Robin
*Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Cedar Waxwing
European starling (heard)
*Red-eyed vireo
*Prairie warbler
Northern cardinal
*Chipping sparrow
House finch
American goldfinch
House sparrow

That made a total of 24 species we saw or heard. Seven of them are lifers for me, too. And I'm only counting the ones I saw (not heard). I marked the lifers with an asterisk.

Once the tour was over we were allowed to walk the grounds and tour the house. Red and I didn't have time to tour the house, but we chose to admire the garden in the back yard. There was a lot of activity going on. Not just birds, but many butterflies, dragonflies, and bees. Here are some photos I took.

Here is a large bee gathering pollen from a squash blossom. Click on each of the photos for a larger view.

Lamb's ears, coleus, and marigolds

More of the same - marigolds and lamb's ears

This is the center of the garden, with a birdbath, and to the right is the pole where the feeder is sitting on.

Maybe someone can help me with the name of these beautiful flowers.

A Tiger Swallowtail

A hyacinth bean bush - and a close-up of the flower and beans.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Colonial Williamsburg Garden Tour

Red and I took in as much as we could walking around and touring Colonial Williamsburg Friday morning (Aug 24). One of our tours was to see the various gardens of the 18th century called The Gardens of Gentility. The first and the largest was of the Governor's palace. The second one was of George Wythe's home (one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence). The third one was quite small, belonging to the home of James Geddy, Williamsburg's silversmith and jeweler. The tour provided a comparison between the gardens of royalty, gentility, and middle class folks of the late 18th century, taking about 2 hours. The next several photos are of the Governor's Palace and garden.

Front of Governor's Palace

Rear view of the Palace

And the following photos are of the garden of George Wythe's house.

Following the garden tour, Red and I continued walking around town and taking note of various other gardens, yards, and architecture. One of the things I noticed was just about every yard had at least one Rose of Sharon. They are such beautiful plants. Here are a few of the photos I took of them.

After walking around town, and feeling quite warm and sticky, we decided to drive over to Yorktown and cool down in our air conditioned car. The following photo is the only one I took while we were in Yorktown. I believe Red has a similar photo on her blog.

We then grabbed some dinner before returning to Colonial Williamsburg for our evening programs. The first one was Legends, Myths, Mysteries, and Ghosts. Below is a photo of the Lumber House, where the tour began (at 7 pm). Our second tour began at 8:30, held in the Court House, called Papa Said, Mama Said. There we heard stories about those who served as slaves and whose parents passed on their stories of culture, ethics, and morals of their ancestors from Africa. Each of our tours had volunteers/docents who were dressed in historic colonial attire. I sure felt sorry for them being dressed in such warm clothing. Here we were in shorts and T-shirts and still uncomfortable from the heat and humidity.


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